The Buffalo Bandits went into Rochester Saturday night hoping to spoil the Knighthawks’ banner raising party. With 11 seconds to go, Tracey Kelusky did just that. He scooped a loose ball in the slot on a broken play and with 2 defenders bearing down on him and fired the ball by Matt Vinc with a behind the back shot. ”As a whole it’s a good win for us,” said Kelusky after the game. “At the end of the day, we weren’t going to be denied.”
The game as a whole was one of the best in recent history between any two teams. The Bandits jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead showing that they intended to take the momentum away from Rochester on their special night. Knighthawks Coach Mike Hasen made the decision to raise the banner with the team still in the locker room so they wouldn’t be distracted by what happened in 2012. That strategy didn’t seem to work.
The Knighthawks didn’t roll over when they fell down 3-0, however. They battled back to tie the game at 3 before the first quarter ended. For the rest of the game, no team gained total control. Both teams found themselves taking silly penalties and taking advantage of the resulting powerplays.
Buffalo Bandits transition player and faceoff man Jay Thorimbert did an outstanding job in a game where his heart was heavy. He lost his best friend in a car crash on Friday and still played on Saturday. He was slated to be the best man in his wedding in September. With 11 seconds to go after TK’s goal, he managed to battle and kill 8 seconds of clock before the Hawks gained possession and called timeout. Kudos to Thorimbert, for sure. He went 17 of 31 on draws for the game.
Mike Hominuck hit for a hat trick in his first game in the lineup, tying his goal total for the season last year. He made a strong case to be inserted into a very deep lineup more often. “When you get the chance on this team, you’ve got to run with it. I’m so happy to be here on this team. It was great to be part of a game like this. It was [like] playoff lacrosse and we delivered,” said Hominuck. “There’s been such a long history between the Bandits and the Knighthawks. This league is so tight. Every game is a must win. It was all about not giving up tonight.”
Shawn Williams was excited to get a win in Rochester against his former team. He contributed 2 goals and 6 assists. He talked about his return to Rochester, “It was awesome driving to the arena [again]. I have nothing but good memories here.” Willy said he didn’t have any vengeful feelings about losing in Rochester with Edmonton in the championship game last season. “No [revenge], it’s a different team and a different attitude.”
The Bandits’ resolve and win pleased Coach Darris Kilgour, but he didn’t seem too sure about Kelusky’s goal. “If it goes in it’s a good shot, haha. It’s not the way Dan Teat drew it up but we battled all night long.” He was very pleased with the effort. “We did the opposite of what we did the first two games, we got off to a great start.”
Darris also commented about Anthony Cosmo’s first full game. “I told him I wasn’t pulling him, no matter what. I wanted to give him a vote of confidence. We did it to him again tonight, we took some bad penalties, but he did a good job. We have all the confidence in the world in him.”
This Bandits team has shown a lot of determination early in the season. Despite trailing in the 4th quarter the last two games, they found ways to win. Chad Culp scored another huge, game-tying goal. Dhane Smith showed his skills all over the floor, beating defenders one on one to score and scoring on a rocket from the restraining line.
Buffalo is also spreading the scoring around much better than last season. On nights where Luke Wiles, Mark Steenhuis and John Tavares aren’t scoring a ton, the team is still putting away 14 goals.
These late wins build character and, although they can be tough on the ticker, they sure are exciting to watch.
The Bandits return to action this Saturday when they play host to the Philadelphia Wings at the First Niagara Center at 7:30pm. Good seats still remain. The Bandits hope to avenge a 13-8 season opening loss to Philly.
Steve is a Buffalo native is an avid NLL and Buffalo Bandits supporter. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveILIndoor.
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